Portland janitors step up their call on building owners to practice responsible contracting

Millennium Building Service (MBS) janitors, who clean the offices of major corporations and institutions across Portland, filed complaints with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) on Wednesday, 9/20, alleging wage theft, underpayment of wages, and denial of legally-protected sick time. A group of janitors visited the BOLI offices asking for action to reclaim back wages and recognition for their rights on the job. MBS janitors clean buildings at Nike World Headquarters, Daimler Trucks’ North American Headquarters, and office buildings owned by Portland State University.

As part of Raise America PDX actions, community supporters signed onto a letter asking why companies like Daimler and Nike, which received massive public subsidies to build their facilities, are failing to provide good jobs for blue-collar workers. In 2012, Nike secured a deal to freeze their current low tax rate for 30 years. Daimler received nearly $20 million in city and state subsidies to build its new headquarters. Both companies are now in the spotlight as janitors from their buildings raise concerns about poverty wages, unaffordable health insurance, and complaints filed with BOLI’s wage and hour division.

In June, MBS janitors delivered a letter to their company asking for a fair process to form their union. Janitors are also calling on clients of MBS to practice responsible contracting, choosing janitorial contractors where clients know that their vendor’s employees have basic benefits, job protections, and a tried and true dispute resolution process. Investing with a union contractor is one of the best ways to guarantee that you are using a responsible contractor.